Online retailers struggle to cope with consumers Easter Egg hunt demand

Date: 29th April 2015
Author: Deri Jones

Today we released the results from our Easter UK eCommerce Performance Survey examining how UK online retailers coped with Easter in respect to online purchases of Easter Eggs.

The findings show that the websites suffered performance issues trying to meet the increased last minute demand for Easter Egg purchases.

easter-ecommerce-performance-coverThe Easter holiday is arguably one of the busiest time for retailers, in particular chocolate retailers and supermarkets. With the promotion of Chocolate Easter Eggs creates unprecedented demand and peak online sales.

The survey ran for the four weeks prior to Easter with UK retailers having their websites tested via our website performance monitoring service. The testing measures eCommerce performance by simulating a typical customer journey, in this case searching for, selecting an Easter Egg from the results, and then adding it to the basket. The tests ran every 300 seconds 24/7. Results between 8AM and 11PM, were used to eliminate the effects of routine maintenance.

There was a steady decline in performance over the period including both availability and journey delivery times, across all websites monitored as traffic ramped up in the run-up to Easter with consumers searching for Eggs. In particular sites struggled to cope in the week prior to Easter with availability dropping to 84% and it taking 12% longer to complete the purchase.


Fourteen retailers were included, seven of which were supermarkets, six chocolate retailers and one department store. Supermarket performance outweighed that of chocolate retailers with much smaller pages, slightly faster delivery times and marginally better availability. Three of the top four performer across the board were supermarkets.

Top 10 Performers

1 Iceland
2 Asda
3 Chocolate Trading Co
4 Tesco
5 Lindt
6 Green & Black’s
7 Morrisons
8 Sainsburys
9 Ocado
10 Thorntons

Traditionally Easter is one of the retail sector’s biggest seasonal events, along with Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, managing a strong demand for confectionery. There is evidence that the major supermarkets underestimated the demand this year. According to figures from IRI Retail Advantage solution, total volumes of Easter Confectionery sales were up by 15.1% over last year with higher volumes during the five-week period up to the Saturday before Easter Sunday, which was bolstered by heavy promotional activity in early March that led to a shortage in stock levels in some UK supermarkets. IRI believes that supermarkets missed out on a £5.2m opportunity in the final week before Easter because of this underestimated demand. These out of stock issues were also identified during the course of the survey.

eCommerce success and outstanding user experience are now critical for securing customer loyalty and sales. Knowing how a website is performing is critical for brand and category managers’ today. The figures suggest that the online retailers have learnt a lot over the last couple of years but there are still times when the unpredictable can cause performance issues. By running simulated journeys from the customer’s perspective, retailers can understand issues, evaluate performance for a particular scenario and either adjust or bring online more resources to cope with that demand before customers complain.

The following sites were all included in the survey: Asda, Cadbury, Chocolate Trading Co., Green & Black’s, Hotel Chocolat, Iceland, John Lewis, Lindt, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsburys, Tesco, Thorntons and Waitrose.

Find out more by reading our complete survey report here.

Download survey report